Korean Hallyu has taken over the world of entertainment. Gen Z swoon over K-Pop music, millennials are hungover on K-Dramas, Korean movies, and Korean actors are winning Oscars. So indeed, there is deep aspirational value for many to learn the original language of Korean entertainers. However, learning a new language, especially a difficult one like Korean, can be a daunting affair. Still, with the right kind of motivation, it can become an enriching and fun experience. And Korean startups with their innovative technology can always be depended upon for that.
Korean startup Neosapience, which has developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI) voice generation technology, has collaborated with HYBE EDU for its unique ‘Learn! Korean’ study package offers Korean learning in a synthesized sound source close to the actual voices of famous K-Pop band BTS team members. The Korean learning kit with BTS makes K-pop fans go gaga and also helping K-drama fans enrich their viewing experience.
An AI-startup and education company joint effort
Neosapience is a startup founded by former Qualcomm engineers and KAIST (formally the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) graduates in 2017. The startup specializes in developing AI-based automated digital humans named Neosapience. The company developed core technology to synthesize hyper-realistic and emotional speech from a given text script. Neosapience operates anAI voice-over service called Typecast. Its services include AI speech synthesis, voice cloning, emotional speech synthesis, and cross-lingual voice cloning technology.
HYBE EDU is an education arm of HYBE Corporation (formerly known as Big Hit Entertainment), which handles K-pop band BTS and its artists – RM, J-Hope, Jin, Suga, Jimin, V, and JungKook. HYBE EDU creates and distributes educational content and is best-known for it ‘Learn! Korean’ series, which uses BTS and their TinyTAN characters to teach fans basic Korean.
Follow BORA exercise and you can perfect your pronunciations for ㄱ, ㅋ, and ㄲ!🗣️#ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㄲㅋㅋㅋㅋㄲ
🗓Release every Monday 8:00A.M.(KST)
🖥You can watch with a Smart TV app. pic.twitter.com/YkCJFM4SmP
— HYBE EDU (@HYBE_EDU) May 24, 2021
HYBE EDU’s study package ‘Learn! Korean with TinyTAN’ offers basic Korean learning worldwide. The learning package consists of a textbook, workbook, poster of the Korean alphabets, vocabulary cards, masking tapes, and stickers. It is offered in four languages – Korean, English, Japanese, and Spanish. Neosapience’s innovation of BTS band member voice synthesis is used for the Korean parts.
Hear BTS band boy say your name as you learn Korean
For the ‘Learn! Korean with TinyTAN’ series Neosapience’s technology has been used to synthesize BTS band boys’ voices for HYBE EDU’s unique feature – the MotiPen, a sound pen that reads aloud words and phrases in the standard pronunciations when placed on the text.
The most exciting feature of the MotiPen is the audio personalization service function that speaks the user’s name with a support message in a synthesized sound source of BTS members. With this feature, K-Pop fans can hear the Korean pronunciation of their name by their favorite BTS member.
Talking about the audio personalization service Taesoo Kim, CEO of Neosapience, said, “Motipen’s audio personalization service is made with HYBE EDU’s suggestion that it is effective for artists to call out learners’ names as a way to strengthen learning motivation and enhance learning effectiveness. We are pleased to be able to contribute to motivating Korean learners around the world to learn positively through the implementation of the synthesized sound source of BTS.”
In terms of technology, Neosapience said that the key was to synthesize high-quality voices capable of expressing delicate emotions for learners to immerse. It is the first time that the startup has developed using limited existing original voices and released a product. Neosapience’s experience, because of the commercialization know-how and data accumulated while operating its service Typecast, helped it develop HYBE EDU’s learning kit technology.
Neosapience’s current success and future plans
Neosapience is preparing to expand its services that allow anyone with a script to create video content using AI actors such as AI announcers and instructors. Currently, Neosapience’s Typecast provides 100 different voices, and as of May 2021, Typecast has exceeded 500,000 users. In addition, by adding English characters, it has secured paid users in eight countries, including the US, UK, Singapore, Philippines, and India.
Neosapience presented its AI actors at CES 2021 held online and announced an active global advancement plan. Currently, there are more than 20 AI English voice actors in Typecast. The startup is targeting the global market to meet the needs of global users, such as releasing characters that speak British English and American English. Furthermore, they are also developing technologies to generate facial expressions and gestures so that anyone can cast AI-based digital humans and generate videos by just typing a script. It would lead to a revolution in the media entertainment industry as creating content can be cheaper and easier.
About HYBE EDU’s ‘Learn! Korean’ series
HYBE EDU’s ‘Learn! Korean’ series kits have gained much popularity in schools worldwide. The company has sold more than 300,000 language kits across 30 countries. The study package is beneficial not only for BTS fans but all non-Korean speakers in general. Its excellent interactive method makes it fun to familiarize with the basics of the Korean language.
Top Universities like the University of Sheffield UK and Ain Shams University in Egypt are now using BTS-themed HYBE EDU materials to teach college language classes in conjunction with the Korean Language Contents Institute (KOLCI).
Read More on Korean startups helping K-Wave thrive worldwide,
- Korean startup Infludeo’s platform connects K-Pop global fans with K-Pop artists
- With Korean startup’s app PICKIT, K-Pop fans can trade photo cards of their favourite pop idols
- Korean startup Kormena to offer Korean dramas, movies & more in Arabic
- 10 K-Dramas to watch for some ‘money matters’